April, 2005

4/4-7:  Left Vail this afternoon to spend the night in Glenwood before heading off on our first trip to the Green.  With a long hour or so to kill before dinner with Sue, headed downstream from the Sunlight Bridge on the Roaring Fork wooly buggering along the way.  The river's up markedly from recent snowstorms and runoff may finally have begun.  Color was off too, but not so much as to make the river unfishable.

Streamers however were not much on the minds of the local residents, and a half hour of tossing the black bugger yielded only a couple of fourteen inch browns.  At the end of our hike we turned around, headed back upstream, and switching to a combo nymph rig of leading #12 single feather bugger and trailing #18 prince brought better results.  One nice deep holding area gave up a half dozen mixed browns & rainbows between 12-16 inches plus a 3# whitefish and something else hooked that was never seen, but obviously was very large since it moved off like a freight train until the hook finally pulled out in mid stream.

Another four or five similar sized trout made up the rest of the afternoon.  The single feather bugger is kind of interesting in that it's constructed with just one black saddle hackle.  The feather tip trails the end of the hook, while the body & head are made up of the rest of the feather being wound forward from the tail and then the head is trimmed a bit around a small lead barbell used as weight.  The fly can be either dead drifted as a stone nymph or twitched at the end of the drift.  It's not always a winner, but can be effective under the right conditions.

Left Glenwood next morning & arrived at the Spillway of Flaming Gorge Dam just after the noon hour.  It was still bitterly cold from the last storm's passage and a West wind howled down the gorge.  Doing our regular downstream hike and streamer casting wasn't a problem with the wind's direction, but turning around and trying to throw nymphs or surface midges on the return was about as unpleasant as casting gets.

The streamer fishing was lousy with maybe 4-5 releases of modest sized browns over the two hours of hiking & casting.

With trout appearing to migrate to eddies and beginning to feed on midges stuck in the film there, a switch to tiny surface flies and midge emergers should have been highly productive - and it was - when a decent cast could be put on the surface.  And that didn't happen much due to the wildly gusting winds.  It was extremely frustrating to work over actively feeding fish and not be able to drop a well placed fly on their noses.

So the last couple of hours were maddening even though we finally were able to release another dozen or so predominantly browns over rainbows in the 12-15 inch range.

Camped out just past Dutch John that night with very cold overnight temperatures.   All our water supplies were frozen when I struggled out of the bag the next morning.  Had a cup of hot chocolate laced with instant coffee and drove into the Little Hole parking lot.  The dog & I were the first warm bodies down there this day.  After a quick breakfast we I began our hike upstream and started  nymphing after a mile or so of walking.

It continued to be bitterly cold and the fish seemed completely somnolent.  Absolutely nothing worked.  Tried large nymphs, small nymphs, emergers, etc completely without success.  Finally around 10:30, I rerigged to a full sixteen foot leader with 7X tippet, dropped down to a  size #22 gray/brown bodied comparadun - and life improved dramatically.

With the sun finally warming the water a modest midge hatch had apparently begun, although few were visible in the air, and the little dull colored comparadun must have matched the naturals almost perfectly.

To be straightforward this became the best day of fishing I've ever experienced on this generally very tricky stream.  Everywhere a fish could be seen and cast to, it seemed like 90% of the time a strike happened.  Best of all there actually was a slight tailwind (out of the East), which made presentations a no brainer all day.

It was so good I didn't bother taking a break for lunch until 3:30 in the afternoon.  To be honest the number of fish hooked was almost obscene, and on other streams, I'd probably have stopped long before pinging what may have run into triple digits of various trout.

Most were browns ranging from 12-18 inches with a far lesser number of rainbows in 10-14 inch sizes.  The whole day was crazy.  Doubt I'll ever find such a serendipitous collaboration of the right fly for the right hatch like this again in my life.

Getting back to the car around 6 that evening I was beat.  For the first time in memory, my casting arm was actually sore.  Debated repeating the process the following day but not wanting to tweak that many trout mouths again in this part of the river we opted to head out and camp at the bottom of the "B" section to spend some time around Bridgeport.

Camped at that takeout and awakened again to brutally cold morning temperatures.  Since we had a good five hour drive to return home this day, instead of waiting for the air to warm enough to wake up the fish here, we packed up and drove back to Colorado, on to Craig, then to Meeker, & made a stop at our favorite spot on our favorite stream in this state.

Runoff  has not yet started out here and the water was low, clear, & cold.  As a change of pace from a rigging standpoint, I shifted to a surface #12 WRS (more or less using it as a strike indicator) and trailed it three feet by a #18 BH prince.  And wouldn't you know it, about the second cast into a nice pool, a beautiful fourteen inch cutthroat took the indicator fly.

We spent a couple of hours wading & casting on this water.  It was decent, if not really great fishing today.  The trough hole gave up a couple of very nice sixteen inch bows, and further upstream a chunky eighteen inch male rainbow went for the prince, but it was somewhat surprising to not find any smaller & younger in class trout coming to the flies.

On the other hand it was more than slightly unpleasant finding that the local population of whitefish were now fully awake and hungry.  Way too many of them got to the nymph before what should have been more trout.

Overall it was a great trip.  Next week may call for a repeat visit all the way around - or we may head up to Wyoming and the North Platte in an attempt to hit that water before runoff keeps us off our favorite streams until the first of July rolls around.

4/14-15: This week's trip to the Green was going to be Sue's first fishing outing of the spring.  We'd planned on heading over Wednesday after her work day was finished so loaded up the van in Glenwood around 4:00 that afternoon & headed out on the freeway.  Unfortunately the trip came to an early and unpleasant end somewhere between Dinosaur and Vernal, Utah courtesy of a rogue deer that leaped at just the right time to plant its head in our windshield and do further damage to the fender, hood, & lights on the car.

It happened so quickly in the twilight that Sue had absolutely no chance to react to the situation.  Fortunately despite the destruction of the windshield there appeared to be no actual mechanical problems with the vehicle itself, so we drove closer to Vernal and camped out for the night.  The next morning my inclination was to continue on to the Green, but given the high numbers of state patrol close to the dam, the probability of our being pulled over & ticketed for impaired vision was quite high.  So we opted to turn around the next morning & head back to Colorado with the hopes of stopping on the White River for at least a bit of casting before trying to get the car to a body shop in Glenwood.

Arrived on that latter stream just prior to noon & began our regular wade up the river using a combination of a WRS dry and trailing stone or prince.  The fishing was actually quite good given that the river had now risen substantially from the prior week but remained very clear.

We took nothing on a dry fly & eventually turned to straight nymphing.  That was a lot more productive and both of us seemed to hook and play or release at least 2-4 fish at every stop.  Sue seemed to land more rainbows & mine were split fairly equally between whitefish & rainbows.  Sizes were decent.  Trout ranged between 12-16 inches that we released and both of us played fish that were significantly bigger - a couple in the 20 inch range.

By 3:00 we'd had plenty of success and enough hiking to satisfy our needs so we loaded back up in the van & eased our way to Glenwood.

Friday morning we were able to get the van moved to the recommended body shop following which we headed up the Roaring Fork & turned up the Frying Pan to try that heavily fished tailwater.  Even on a weekday it's now very packed with anglers as the Fork is basically blown out by runoff from Basalt down to the Colorado.

We did find our favorite first pool to be empty of competition so rigged up with tiny double nymphs and proceeded to catch a handful of mixed browns and rainbow apiece.  Tried another spot up by the forest entry point without any success and then drove somewhat closer to the dam before coming to another pull off that wasn't occupied.  Starting at the tail of a large run a small emergence began and we were able to strike or play a good dozen mixed rainbows and browns in the next hour or so.  Sizes were modest - 10-14 inches for both species, but it was a nice treat to have some surface action on our little #20 comparaduns.

With Sue stuck at work next week, the dog & I are planning a repeat performance over to the Green - hopefully without the same outcome as we had this week.







4/20-22:  If we don't succeed at first try, try again.  Keeping our eyes peeled on the road and sides thereof, the dog & I once again struck off on another attempt to reach Flaming Gorge without being gored by another deer.  With two major accidents in the past two year from conflicts with that populous local animal, a third incident would definitely not be a charm.  Happily we managed to avoid any problems and arrived at the spillway parking lot just after noon on Wednesday, rigged up, and began our hike to the river.

A strong West wind was blowing down current so I rigged up and began casting one of the new pine squirrel buggers into all likely holding water.  This  fly is probably a bit too small for this stream and although tied on a #8 hook, the zonker strips are really closer to a #10 which means it gets lost pretty easily in big water.  However, it did a pretty good job right off the bat & probably accounted for 5-6 fish in the first quarter mile we hiked.  Shortly though with some heads starting to roll near the surface, the urge to take fish up top won my heart and I switched to that long leader tapered to 7X and one of the gray/tan comparaduns that were quite popular last time around.

The fly worked great all the rest of the afternoon.  Virtually every nice eddy or piece of shoreline that held visibly bulging trout gave up a fish or three - that is when a decent cast could be laid near the noses of those fish.  The winds continued to be fierce all afternoon until almost 4:30 when we were finally heading back to the car.  After a happy hour with a couple glasses of jug wine and a snack we walked back down to the upper part of the spillway and managed to release another handful of browns using the pine bugger again.

Camping out was once again a bitterly cold experience - will spring ever arrive?  The front that had passed through the previous day had dropped up to fifteen inches of snow just North of us, but down here in the gorge, we just got cold winds and freezing temperatures overnight.  In the morning we headed down to Little Hole, ate a quick breakfast and began the upstream trek.  Tried using the bugger again this morning and like previous trips this year, got completely shut out.  Unlike the summer months when the fish seem to stop feeding midday, right now, the water's too cold early on for them to be at all active before 10:00 or so - and really it's much better around noon.

Having had no success with streamers or deep nymphing, I finally rerigged with a #14 rubber legged WRS and trailed it with a tiny #20 green GPS.  Happily this duo of fairly strange flies brought pretty decent results.  First fish took the trailer, but the next dozen or so went topside.  It was delightful.  My guess is that the WRS might somehow may have nominally imitated the local cicada, which while not in evidence yet, may have dredged up some positive memories in these trout.  Anyway it made for a surprisingly fun morning.

By the time I was three miles or so upstream around 11:30 a kind of midge emergence began and once again, turning to that comparadun brought outstanding results.  The gusty swirling wind remained a constant unwanted companion all day long.  Had we not been faced with that issue, it's hard to tell how many mouths might have been pinged.

At one point I got so frustrated by not knowing where the fly was coming down that I shifted to a larger #16.  But size does matter.  After getting five refusals to every strike, I went back to the smaller #20 or #22 and the strikes improved - even given the difficulty of finding that small fly on the roiled surface.

Periodically during the day from about noon on, a few olives were in the air.  When a decent hatch actually began around 2:30, within ten minutes of fish going wild for the surface flies, the wind got even worse, and the hatch was demolished within 20 minutes.  Talking to another fisherman on the way back to the car, he indicated that it only lasted ten minutes lower on the river due to same the wind issue. 

So again it was an outstanding day on the water.  The only negative note was provided by the weather.  Our plan had been to fish upper "B" from Little Hole the next morning, but with generally poor success in the colder part of the morning - plus having to be back in Colorado by mid afternoon - we took off after camping and drove back towards Vernal stopping at Steinaker Reservoir to see if there might be any of the oversized bluegills supposedly inhabiting that lake working the shoreline.  No fish were visible anywhere we looked along the shore & I suspect they're still down deep until water temperatures warm significantly.

That was it for this go around.  We'll definitely head back to the Green each of the next couple of months and keep our fingers crossed that we'll finally run into some nice weather for a change.

4/23:  With Sue in town for the weekend and most local rivers blown out with runoff, we headed over the pass towards the Blue in hopes of finding some success on a couple parts of that overworked and uninspiring river.  Drove to Green Mountain dam and looked at the upper part of this tailwater, but it was packed with too many bodies, so drove around the mountain and into a short stretch at the lower part of the tailwater.  Way too low flows and not enough holding area for trout means few trout and that's what we found here.  Sue managed three strikes and one nice fourteen inch brown from a hole behind a large boulder and I never saw a sign of a fish.

Above the reservoir where the Blue enters Green Mountain we fished wooly buggers through the silty water for a half hour.  Sue again had a handful of strikes and fish played, but I once again was shut out.  Mr. skunk was my only reward today.

Last Logbook Entry  for previous day

4/26-29:  With lousy weather headed for our mountains the dog & I figured it was time for our first Lake Powell trip of the spring.  We left Glenwood Tuesday morning & drove to the Stanton Creek primitive camping area and spent another hour or so trying to find a way to get close enough to the water so we could easily launch the kayak for some fishing.  Unfortunately that meant driving down to the Bullfrog Bay side of this site as the walls of Stanton Creek are now so steep due to dwindling water levels that it would have been a major chore to get the boat up & down the banks.

We set up the boat & did a short paddle that afternoon under fairly nice sunny skies.  Fishing was lousy in the Bay as expected since with levels this low there really isn't much good structure to hold the fish at which we have some chance of catching.  But right after dinner in front of our camping area, I did manage to release a half dozen very modest smallmouths and had one very large fish on for a while - the big snag that moves type of fish.  I suspect it was probably a large carp that I'd foul hooked in a fin, but it was fun anyway.

After the passage of a major cold front the next morning, we paddled farther over towards Stanton Creek but only made it a short ways up the arm.  Simply was a very long paddle & my butt really gets sore from sitting too long in that one position.  However, we did pass by some better structure and were able to get a number of strikes and several fish played in the locations we knew really held fish.  In fact keeping track of the intervals between strikes, it was down to one every 2-4 minutes trolling slowly with the full sink line and double streamer rig.  That rate of strikes compares very favorably with our historical averages while trolling which generally run a strike every fifteen minutes or so.

Shortly before noon I saw some thunderheads building towards the West of us and we quickly paddled back to camp arriving just before several of these storms lit up. Happily I had a good book to read as the storms continued throughout the afternoon and into early evening & we were unable to leave the safety of the Element all that time.

I had stashed the kayak a couple feet above the water behind the car and was reading away when a massive gust hit us and all of a sudden the kayak disappeared.  Amazing the strength of the wind to pick up that 80 pound piece of plastic and fling it into the adjoining bay.  Fortunately we were on the windward shore and I was able to retrieve the boat easily.

Next day despite mounting winds on the lake we took a chance and paddled all the way up the Stanton Creek arm and finally found good success.  Had many strikes and released several wonderful bass including one double hookup of a 12 and 16 incher respectively.  Unfortunately one flipped off before I could take the confirming photo.  It was very nice fishing.  A motor boat fisherman came by & noted to us that the fish seemed to be holding at about twelve feet.  It's still difficult for us to get that deep trolling, and generally we have better luck at those depths by getting out on the bank and casting out & letting the line sink for a predetermined period before beginning retrieval.

The water's also still very cold & fish aren't really active yet.  The slow pace of the troll makes for lots of missed strikes as I can't hold on to the rod and paddle at the same time.  Anyway we finished off the morning with some nice fish and again just made it back to camp before more storms blew out any more thought of casting from the shore.

It got so bad during the early evening that we packed up and drove several miles away from the water to find decent shelter - and of course when we arrived home this afternoon, there was a good six inches of fresh snow in town.  The moisture's great though and should make the local trout happier this summer than they've been in several years.

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